very clever things

On teaching...

Its a Tuesday morning and I have returned to my stoop. The goldenrod beside me is still in full bloom, and, in true Los Angeles fashion, the white sage leaves are starting to get thick and sticky again-- they’ll be ready to harvest by the time the rains come. If the rains come. Mornings have cooled down to sweater weather, and the pavement and grass around me is littered with leaves. The air in this neighbourhood smells like the poplar trees up the street, which have started to drop their leaves, leaving that fermented salicylic smell hanging in the air. I, for one, spend all year waiting for this time. In the last few weeks, I went to the Herbal Resurgence, and came back, and realised along the way that the feeling of listlessness that had been building over the last few months had eased up. As someone who likes, even craves movement, I’d been feeling a little too still. Sometimes it takes a gathering of like-minded people who inspire you and challenge you. Sometimes it takes someone you respect a lot saying ‘why the hell aren’t you teaching?’, and for a sudden feeling of terror to grab your chest for you to realise that you’re scared of something. And then to maybe ask yourself why? And then maybe ask if you want to do it. And then to decide that yes, you do.

 Last week I was suddenly overcome with a feeling of intense tiredness. Its only taken me 31 and 11/12 years to understand that this means my immune system has gone on heightened alert and I went to lie down to take a nap (like a good herbalist who listens to her own advice for once). It was a frenzied dream session that only lasted twenty minutes, complete with slight fever and eyelid twitching. I woke up and my throat was swollen, and twenty minutes later I started coughing.

Southern California, and the southwest in general I assume, is dry cough country. In the years I’ve been practicing here I’ve yet to see a soggy wet cough that I get to dry up. Marshmallow supplies dwindle every fall; I now order in bulk instead of gathering. And I think its going to be a respiratory infection kind of year. I’ve seen six pretty bad respiratory cases already and have heard of three cases of pneumonia already. Its going to be a bad one. But treating respiratory issues isn’t difficult, neither is knowing what to do when someone gets sick. It just takes a little understanding of what’s happening in the body-- what the point is for all that sticky slimy stuff, what the point is for a cough reflex that feels like its trying to kill you, and more importantly, what herbs to use and when.

Sunday October 20th? Are you free? I’m doing a respiratory class in my living room, with an explanation of the respiratory system, and details about what herbs to use and when, plus infusions to taste, and some case studies for good measure. It’ll be useful information for both budding herbalists and those who have families they want to treat. Empowering you to take steps to support your body in its healing process. You’ll leave armed with knowledge and understanding, and a lung formula that I’ve put together (one I use commonly here in Southern California).

Class size will be limited to ten people so we can get more hands on experience.

Register HERE. 

Just add water

(things to do with nettle seeds) In the beginning, there was a seed. A small, unassuming thing, that contained all of the potential in the world. A seed of knowledge, a seed of intention, a seed of change.

I often picture the web of life as a series of movements and pauses-- potentials, probabilities, things reaching their pinnacle and then starting all over again. With seasons, Fall and Spring are seasons of intense movement, whereas Summer and Winter are seasons of pause. There is movement towards the dark, and movement away from the dark, and then there is darkness and the absence of it. Or light and the absence of that; I'm not particular about how you choose to look at it. Then there are plant parts. Roots and seeds contain the movement, the potential, the change. They contain the sex, the creativity, the expression before its been expressed. By the time something is in flower, its potential is being expressed and there is a pause. And then the flower turns to seed, and seed bursts out and settles in the dark earth, and seed meets water, and seed meets sun and then, given the perfect conditions, something extraordinary can happen. The seed as the still point, the seed burning at the centre of the world, the seed that provides everything that is to come.

Of course I think its the same with people. But I compare people and plants a lot. People as cultivated roses and resilient dandelions and echinacea species that won't germinate unless they've been frozen, or manzanita that needs trial by fire to reach its full potential. People as blackberry, or skullcap, or pine. Given the great propensity for diversity in the plant world, and how different we all are, I don't think we could run out of variety when comparing us all. Except then, of course, there's the whole 'ish' thing. You know, how a rose is rose-ish, but most of us try to not be us-ish at all. For some reason people strive to be great but they never strive to be themselves, and personally I think this is a silly oversight because if you're not as yourself as you can be then how can you claim said greatness? But I ramble. Back to the seed. And back to potential.

Seeds contain the blueprint for the potential of the entire plant's life, and its children, and its children's children. If you have something that is a seed but also a trophorestorative (restores function to certain body systems or parts) then you have something very powerful indeed. Seeds, like roots, often nourish the deeper parts of the body, in some way or another. Schizandra seed, for example, which sucks the energy in like a tight corset for someone who is leaking outside themselves. Or milk thistle which nourishes and restores function to the liver. Or oat seed, which nourishes and restores function to the nervous system. Or nettle seed, which I have a massive jar of next to me, that I keep reaching into and nibbling on, which restore kidney function. But they do more than that. They nourish the adrenals, give an energy boost and mental clarity boost, they help with handling stress. They nourish and restore the body on a very basic level.

I gather a lot of nettle seeds every year, because I use the tincture in an exhaustion formula. But I'm always left with a lot too, and one of the things I always make is very simple: nettle seed salt. Because nettle seeds taste green and slightly salty already, having the two mixed together and sitting somewhere I can see it means I use it (whereas if I keep a little jar of nettle seeds that I'm supposed to nibble on, I forget). Sprinkled over scrambled eggs, or onto soups, or even over the top of hummus or other dips. It adds an interesting, green, nettley flavour that I personally am rather fond of. You can mix it with cayenne (if you're a cayenne kind of person) or dried lemon rind (if you're a lemony kind of person). I personally, do both. And then its there, and incredibly good for you (if you're the type of person who tends towards being exhausted, stressed out, dried out, anxiety-prone and like your reserves are desperately in need of reinforcement), and you're taking your medicine without even thinking about it...

For more information on nettle seeds. 

If you can't find nettle seeds to make your own, I make a nettle seed and seaweed salt, and sell it in my shop HERE.

Nettle seed salt

1 cup nettle seed

grated rind of 3 lemons

a few good shakes of cayenne

1/4 cup salt

Those are my general quantities. Put everything in a blender or spice grinder and grind until its a uniform size. Then put in a salt shaker and keep somewhere you'll use it.